Readings for Writers: Pick of the Week 1/30/15

Every few weeks, a member of the Grub community recommends a book they find helpful or inspirational from a craft perspective. This week, Grub staff member Sonya Larson recommends one of her favorite plays. 

Enriched is the writer who reads plays! Study them and you'll absorb important lessons in how to write subtext, compress language, reveal character, balance action and exposition, and build a gripping and plausible plot.  In particular I learn from the plays of August Wilson, and particularly still, his Pulitzer-winning Fences.  These lines, spoken by the character of Rose, are just few of many that break my heart:

"I married your daddy and settled down to cooking his supper and keeping clean sheets on the bed.  When your daddy walked through the house he was so big he filled it up.  That was my first mistake.  Not to make him leave some room for me.  For my part in the matter.  But at that time I wanted that.  I wanted a house that I could sing in.  And that’s what your daddy gave me.  I didn’t know to keep up his strength I had to give up little pieces of mine.  I did that.  I took on his life as mine and mixed up the pieces so that you couldn’t hardly tell which was which anymore.  It was my choice.  It was my life and I didn’t have to live it like that.  But that’s what life offered me in the way of being a woman and I took it.  I grabbed hold of it with both hands."

Want more?  Read this play.

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About the Author

Sonya Larson joined GrubStreet in 2005, and helped to grow the organization from offering 80 classes a year to over 600. Since then she has managed GrubStreet's many and proliferating programs, and served as Program Director for several years.

     Now, as the Director of the Muse and Advocacy, Sonya oversees the staff, organization, sponsorship, and execution of GrubStreet's annual conference of 800+ writers, guest authors, literary agents, editors, and publishing innovators. She also spearheads Grub's efforts to expand access to classes and services for writers of historically marginalized backgrounds. Sonya also represents GrubStreet at conferences nationwide, including AWP, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and Book Expo America. 

     Sonya's short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2017, American Short Fiction, The American Literary ReviewPoets & Writers, The Writer's Chronicle,, West Branch, Salamander, Memorious, Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices, Del Sol Review, The Red Mountain Review, and The Hub. She has received awards and honors from Best American Short Stories 2017 and 2015, the Pushcart Prize, Glimmer Train, Meridian, Salamander, the American Literary Review, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is at work on a novel about a Chinese community living in rural Mississippi in the 1930s, which earned her an Emerging Artist Award from the St. Botolph Club Foundation. In 2016 and 2018 she was awarded fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center.

     Sonya received her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she served as editor of The Madison Review, and her MFA in fiction from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

See other articles by Sonya Larson
by Sonya Larson


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